Life is basically a bit crap at the moment.

I'm short of cash, and so is everyone else. I don't mind a frugal christmas; but a broke December is another matter. C is in trouble and I wish I could help but I can't - maybe I'll post about that sometime. The sky is a dozen shades of dim cold rainy grey, and the mood is infectious.

I had a raft of blood tests yesterday, and should have the results in about a week.

The job market is very strange right now. Five years ago it was possible to find temporary, rubbish jobs that you'd do for a few months until a worthwhile vancancy came along in something you actually wanted to do. So there'd be quallified computer programmers working as drivers and cleaners for a while, before going back to programming computers on a long term basis.

Now, most of the computer programming jobs are temporary...and the traditional rubbish jobs have almost disappeared. Unskilled work for packers, stackers, choppers and cutters, skilled blue-collar work for sparkys, chippys, truckers and the like, all gone. There's obviously still people doing these jobs, but there's no vacancies - or if there are, they're snapped up by sections of the working class who're invisible to me.

There are call centres taking on new people. I actually got an interview for one of them years ago - imagine Fort Knox run by the Stepford Wives. One day in one of those places and I'd be carving poetry into the warm corpse of my boss just to have something less pointless to do.

I've just applied for an archivist job at the university. They want a part-time graduate to do the work of six full-time experts. Which, oddly enough, describes the last job I had at the university.

Anyway, in short: no money, no jobs, no prospects.

There is one thing to look forward to. Minge is visiting on Saturday, and I have a guided tour loosely planned of the more historic and photographable bits of this town that I can't quite manage to leave.

I'm collecting ebooks on how to be an author. The shortest so far is "Writing successfully in 10 minutes" by Stephen King. This is my one minute summery of Mr King's ten minute course:

1) If you can't write well, don't try writing for a living. Or as King says "Be talented". No one knows exactly what talent is, but if you've reveived 500 rejection slips, you don't have it.

2) Be neat - type double spaced, use good paper etc.

3) Be self-critical - if you haven't extensively annotated your first draft with changes, you're being lazy.

4) Make your point quickly - don't be verbose, or circuitous, or preachy.

5) Don't research as you write - if you're not sure of a fact or spelling, check and correct it after you've written.

6) Know the market - submit manuscripts only to publishers who deal with the genres you write.

7) Be entertaining - be informative, angry, exact, satirical, inventive or whatever, but only so long as you're entertaining first.

8) If you don't enjoy writing, don't write.

9) Listen to criticism - if 7 out of 10 readers don't like something, change it.

10) Submit properly - return postage, SAE etc.

11) Be your own agent until you're successful enough to have one.

12) If you know your story is bad, discard it.

These points are pretty obvious, though I think (3) is exagerated. I'd add a thirteenth point - write as you speak when you're speaking well.

I've started work on a short story - a nice simple murder mystery that shouldn't be too difficult to complete, before I try anything more ambitious. I'm also keeping notes about the process of writing it - the idea being to post both when it's done, to show both the production and the product, and hopefully how the two are related.


  1. Try Stephen King's "On Writing" book next.

  2. I know I should be more into this subject of writing... But honestly I haven't read much about it.
    Theory of Literature is a whole different department.
    Thank you for your help!

  3. The job market here is crap as well. I'm looking around and finding little of interest. I recognize how lucky I am to just have a job right now.

  4. MJ: I haven't seen "On Writing", but I'll keep an eye out for it. Currently looking at Peter Clark's "50 Writing Tools".

    Ric: Theory of Reading and Theory of Writing seem to be completely seperate subjects. They shouldn't be, but in universities they are.

    About a decade ago, I knew some students from Spain and Germany who were studying English Literature at english university. They were not impressed.

    Apparantly the "advanced" theories of literature (and linguistics) taught to students at 18 in England were the same "basic" ideas being taught in Europe to students at 12.

    The Brian: The strange thing is, in the town 10 miles north, the economy's booming and there's jobs for everyone. Or so it seems.

    So why don't I move there? Because I can't afford to. Property prices and rent rates are skyrocketing there too.

    Not that I can afford to live here really. Britain now seems to be full of people over 25 living with their parents because, although there's endless new houses and aparartments being built, half of them remain unoccupied because no one can afford to live in them.

  5. Borrow it from the library so you don't have to pay for it.